Financial Aid FAQ's

Financial Aid California

In order to receive Financial Aid you need to meet the following eligibility requirements: 

  • demonstrate financial need (for most programs);
  • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
  • have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau);
  • be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25);
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program;
  • be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds;
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school;
  • sign the certification statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) stating that
    • you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant and
    • you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes; and
  • show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by
    • having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate
    • completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law (or—if state law does not require a homeschooled student to obtain a completion credential—completing a high school education in a homeschool setting that qualifies as an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law); or
    • enrolling in an eligible career pathway program and meeting one of the "ability-to-benefit" alternatives

How do I apply for financial aid?
All students wishing to apply for financial aid must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can complete the FAFSA online at and Samuel Merritt University school code is 00701200.

Can I complete a FAFSA if I have not yet completed my taxes?
Yes. You may estimate income information in order to complete the FAFSA. Read the FAFSA form for instructions on how to do this. We will use this information to issue a financial aid award letter to you. Once you have completed your taxes, you will be may be required to update your FAFSA. If necessary, a revised award letter may be sent to you by the Financial aid office.

I have completed the FAFSA, but have not received a student aid report?
You can call the U.S. Department of Education to check on the status of your FAFSA by calling 1.800.4.FEDAID or going on-line to

What is an EFC? How is it determined?
The EFC is your Expected Family Contribution. The Federal Government determines your EFC based on the financial information you provide on your FAFSA and the size of your household.

Does EFC determine what student loans i am eligible for?
Yes. The Direct Subsidized loans are need based loans and your eligibility for these loans are determined by your EFC.

Is financial need a requirement?
No. While most financial aid awards are restricted to those students with financial need, students without need are entitled to borrow non-need based Unsubsidized Stafford loans. Non-need based loans also include Alternative Loans and Graduate Plus Loans, which may have minimum credit requirements.

Do I need to be admitted to Samuel Merritt University before I complete a FAFSA?
No. You may apply for financial aid any time after January 1st. However, you must be offered admission to receive an award letter.

How much financial aid will I be awarded?
The Financial Aid Office determines a standard Cost of Attendance (COA) that is applied to each program and grade level. The COA covers tuition, fees, books and basic living expenses. A need calculation is then completed for each student. That calculation is the result of your COA - EFC = NEED. We use your "need" to determine your eligibility for grants, Federal Work Study and Direct Subsidized loans. We award students non-need based aid such as Unsubsidized Loans, Graduate Plus Loans and Alternative Loans, to meet the COA. Undergraduate and Graduate students are awarded appropriately according to their grade level and Federal regulations.

How do I access my financial aid?

Students will be offered financial aid via the new Financial Aid Portal (FAP). The Financial Aid office will no longer send financial aid award packets through the US mail to students. New and continuing students will need to log into the Financial Aid Portal (via SMU Total Access) and look for the 'Financial Aid Portal' icon in the My Finances quick launch menu to access their current financial aid awards.

FAQ's for the Financial Aid Portal:

Will I receive a bill for my tuition and when is it mailed?
Student accounts will send a statement at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the semester. You can also retrieve billing information by going to:  If you have not receive a detailed statement of your charges feel free to contact the Campus Service Center at 510-869-1550.

Do I have to pay my bill if I have financial aid?
We consider your account paid if you have enough financial aid pending, even if it has not arrived at the school. You are responsible only for the portion that financial aid does not cover.

When will my refund be ready?
We make every attempt to have refunds ready within the first two weeks of school. In general, a student can expect for a refund check to be processed within 14 business days of the financial aid disbursement.

Can I pick up my refund check or does it get mailed?
All checks are mailed, unless we have been asked by the student to hold the check. If the check is held, you will be notified the day it is ready. You must be on the "Call When Ready" list for your check to be held. You can contact the Campus Service Center at 510.869.1550 to be placed on the "Call When Ready" list.

I have a private/alternative loan. How am I notified when the check is available to me?
Alternative loan funds arrives electronically or by paper check. Once alternative funds arrives, it will be credited to your student account and you will be contacted by Campus Service Center when your refund is available for pick up if you do not have any balance pending.

What if I do not have enough loans to cover my balance? How do I pay the difference?
You may pay your balance by cash, check, credit card (Visa and MasterCard only) or payment plan. Please contact Student Accounts if you would like to set up a payment plan.

Can I pay my balance by phone?
Yes. The Campus Service Center will accept the information over the phone and will be asked a series of questions to maitain security of your credit card.

What happens if I do not pay my bill?
A financial hold will be placed on your account with penalty charge and you can be pulled out of class. This will prevent you from registering for next semester.

Does my tuition cover all my costs?
No. Depending on the program, there may be additonal costs. To view tuition information you can go to:

If you have questions about your billing, please contact the Business Office at 510-869-6731 or you can contact them via e-mail at


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